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Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Guriyai Nirney (Pbi)

A Reveiw by Gurcharan Singh*

Author: Dr Rajinder Singh
Published by: Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, Model Town Extension, Ludhiana 141002
Pages : 72; price Rs 20/-; Paperback
Edition: Sep 2008

This booklet is not just an account of decision by Guru Gobind Singh to endow Guruship to Sri Guru Granth Sahib as Eternal Shabad Guru after him, but much more. The author calls it a summary of mean and dirty effort to tamper with the history of gurgaddi to Sri Guru Granth Sahib. In reality it refers to the beliefs of the Namdhari sect who have broken away from the Sikh mainstream and have started to follow personal Gurus and not Guru Granth Sahib as ordained by the Tenth Master.

In almost three hundred years after Guru Gobind Singh ji, Sikhs have never had any doubt as to who is their Guru. Guru Granth Sahib is so much intervowen in our life itself. From birth till death we remember the Guru and go back to the shabad, the bani and take recourse to words of advice, courage, and solace in happiness or adversity. This is because the tenth Master advised us that Guru Granth is Guru Roop, the spirit of all the ten Masters.

The facts of Guru Gobind Singh’s death on 7th Oct, 1708 and before it, ceremony of anointing Guru Granth Sahib as eternal Guru have been reported by many historians, Persian, Punjabi, Urdu and English. The first is Guru’s court poet Sainapat’s book Gur Sobha, completed around 1711 AD, i.e., within three years of Guru Gobind Singh’s death, which confirms this. The official records of Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah who had just moved to Hyderabad say in the newsletter of 30th Oct, 1708 that ‘it is ordered that on the death of Nanak-panthi Guru, his adopted son Ajit Singh be sent a robe of condolence.’ Another Persian writing, Danishmand Khan’s ‘Bahadur-nama’ also says that. On 11th Nov, 1708 when an official put up to the King as to how the property of the Guru be disposed off/acquired by the state? Orders were “The property belongs to a holy person (darvesh), this won’t add much to the state’s treasure. So no hindrance be created.” The author has quoted many other contemporary writings. A Bhatt Vahi Taonda, Pargna Jind of 5th Katak 1765 Bikrami says about Guru Gobind Singh’s death at Nanded and (Guru) Granth to be the Guru in his place. As per his instructions whosoever will believe this, his devotion will be recognized. This should be taken as the truth. Rehatnamas of Bhai Nandlal, Bhai Chaupa Singh, Amar Nama of Dhadi Natthmal also confirm Guryai given to Guru Granth Sahib.

In order to trace trends of beliefs of Namdhari sect, a brief history of the movement has to be understood.

After death of the tenth Master and later supreme sacrifice of Banda Bahadur, the era of persecution, torture and sacrifices of Sikhs started, which lasted almost for fifty five years. With the downfall of the Mughal empire and rise of Misls, an era of political power, wealth and comfort started. Along with it came the ills of life of abundance extravagance, luxury, drinking, drugs and departure from the disciplined life of Gurmat. The Sikhs went back to brahminical rituals, caste system, worship of various deities, samadhs, graves, etc. To counter these, the reformist movements of Nirankaris and Namdhharis took birth during Sikh raj itself in the north-west of Punjab. Their aim was to bring back old simplicity, devotion, high morals and adherence to Sikhi in puritan form.

The founder of Namdhari movement, Baba Balak Singh was born near Attok in1785. He came in touch with Bhagat Jawahar Mal, a saintly person, and got immersed in meditation and kirtan, and his reputation spread. This group gave rise to the Namdhari sect. There were three missionary centers, Amritsar, Hazro, and Bhaini Sahib, Ludhiana Distt. When in 1862 he died, Baba Ram Singh, head of Bhaini Sahib center was unanimously chosen to head Namdhari Movement.

Baba Ram Singh was born on Feb3, 1816 in Bhaini Raiyan, in a Ramgarhia family, had religious leanings right from childhood. At the age of 21 he joined the Khalsa army during Maharaja Sher Singh’s time. During a move towards Peshawar, he met Baba Balak Singh. He was so impressed by him that he became his disciple. Soon he left his job and spent his time in nam simran and spreading ideas of his mentor. When Baba Balak Singh died in 1826, he was made the head of the sect. It is mentioned that his followers believed in Guru Granth as their scripture, wear white dress, straight turban, carry lathis, woolen rosary and use a watch-word for identity.

Baba Ram Singh was pained at annexation of Punjab. He did not want his followers to use English schools, courts, dak system, foreign clothes, etc. Secret service started keeping an eye on him and his followers called Kukas. He was interned in Bhaini Sahib. Kukas were so much influenced by his leadership that they started believing him as Avtar of Guru Gobind Singh and spread stories that he would bring revolution and establish Khalsa Raj. Such stories were included in a book called ‘Sau Sakhi,’ supposedly including prophecies of Tenth Master. They started addressing Baba Ram Singh as Guru, which he did not like and forbade it.

Kukas were fanatically opposed to killing cows.On 14th June,1870 some persons killed 4 butchers in Amritsar and again on 15th July 1871 killed 3 in Raikot. For this 4 Kukas and again 5 Kukas were hanged and one punished with life term. Large numbers collected at Bhaini in Maghi of 1872 to have path in their memory. Most of them dispersed but about 100 hot-heads collected to loot arms and do mischief. Baba Ram Singh pleaded with them not to create any ugly situation but they disregarded his instructions. Two incidents of skirmishes happened one at Malaud and another at Malerkotla in which a kotwal and some policemen were killed and some injured, and arms looted. This news reached the DC Ludhiana, Mr Cowen. He was enraged; he called help from Jallundur & adjoining states, moved cannons from Ambala and without waiting for Commissioner, Ambala, rigged up 7 cannons in parade ground at Malerkotla, blew up 49 Kukas. Commissioner Forsith ordered and brought Babaji from Bhaini to Ludhiana, recorded his statement and ordered his exile to Rangoon, where the last Mughal emperor was imprisoned. Ten Kukas were also exiled. Cowen blew up further 16 at Malerkotla with the Commissioner’s approval. Baba Ram Singh lived up to 1885. Kukas used to go and meet him in spite of many hurdles and bring his letters to his younger brother Hari Singh and others. In 1940, Sant Tehal Singh published these as “Hukamname Baba Ram Singh ji de.’’

In these he clearly mentioned that … “I am not a Guru, I am only a hukmi banda, people have unnecessarily dragged me into this….After ten patshahian Guru Granth is the Guru, there is none else…I am not a Guru, I am like a kukar (dog) at his door… remember Guru’s words, Granth Sahib is Gurus’ body… etc etc.’’

For some time, Hari Singh headed the Namdhari samprday. When he died in1908 his son, Baba Partap Singh succeeded him. He lived up to 1959. Now his son Maharaj Jagjit Singh is their head.

Although many followers of Baba Ram Singh had started calling him ‘Guru’, he never liked it, he condemned it in his Hukamnamas. But during Baba Partap Singh’s time, in the third decade of the twentieth century, his parcharaks Nidhan Singh Alam and Inder Singh Chakravarty caused a sensation in the Sikh Panth by announcing that Guru Gobind Singh gave gurgaddi to Baba Balak Singh and not Guru Granth Sahib. To establish their claim they concocted an unbelievable story.! This theme is continuing even now.

In their story they say that Guru Gobind Singh did not have last days in Nanded but went away in-cognito and lived secretly in Punjab, till Baba Balak Singh grew up young. In 1812 after giving gurgaddi to Baba Balak Singh ,Guru Gobind Singh breathed his last at the age of 146 years!

Can any body believe that a dynamic personality like the Tenth Master will remain hidden during the most diffcult days of the Panth, or later during ascendancy of the Misls and the Sikh Raj, and not surface up to guide them or lead them.

It may be understandable if any new religious group calls their head a Guru on his own merits; but to twist history and call some person their Guru in continuation with First to Tenth masters of Sikhs is too much!!

This book enlightens us about the facts behind the Namdhari movement as it stands today and is useful information for all, including historians.


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